LAKEWOOD RANCH, Fla. (Dec. 2, 2012) – The U.S. Under-17 Men’s National Team came from behind on two occasions but fell to Portugal 4-3 in the finale of the 2012 Nike International Friendlies at Premier Sports Campus.
Portugal took the championship with a 2-0-1 record (7 points) over the three-game event, while the USA finished third at 1-1-1 (4 points). Brazil earned second place (1-0-2, 5 points) with a 6-2 victory in Sunday’s earlier match.
The U.S. had to dig out of an early hole when Portugal’s José Postiga scored his third goal of the tournament for a 1-0 lead in the 12th minute. Portugal broke up a U.S. attack and went on the counter as captain Sérgio Ribeiro pushed forward and dished a through ball to Postiga, who converted past U.S. goalkeeper Evan Louro.
The USA responded with some give-and-go work along the left side in building up its game-tying score. Corey Baird dished to left back Jose Requejo Jr. in the left corner and he crossed to forward Ahinga Selemani at the near left post for a 20th-minute header past Portugal goalkeeper Rafael Lopes. It marked Selemani’s second goal of the tournament after finding the back of the net as a second-half sub in the 4-4 draw against Brazil to open the Nike Friendlies last Wednesday.
Portugal’s quickness up top got the best of the U.S. back line shortly before halftime when Postiga notched his second goal of the half by fighting off USA center back Conor Donovan and slotting the ball past Louro in the 40th minute for a 2-1 lead.
Postiga then followed that up with his fifth goal of the tournament and third of the match when Clever’s cross from the left was deflected by the USA defense, but it ricocheted to Postiga who drove it home for a 3-1 halftime lead. Postiga was taken out of the match at halftime, finishing the tournament as the leading goal scorer and golden boot winner.
The U.S. came out of the break with a much-needed goal as second-half sub Peter Schropp headed a Christopher Lema corner kick to the left side. Lopes got a piece of the shot with his glove to deflect it into the left post, but it hit the inside of the frame and crossed over the goal line to cut Portugal’s lead to 3-2 in the 49th minute.
As Portugal reacted to a foul in the 62nd minute, the USA smartly took an immediate free kick to catch Portugal off guard. Junior Flores, who entered the match in the 61st minute for Selemani, quickly dished to Alan Winn, who shot underneath Lopes’ arms at the near left post to tie the score at 3-3.
With approximately 30 minutes remaining and both teams in need of a win in order to claim the crown, the players were pressing for the go-ahead goal.
In the 84th minute, Portugal found the necessary tally to move ahead Brazil as João Lima rebounded a spectacular Louro reaction save on Ricardo Carvalho’s initial strike.
Louro, who made his second straight start after a nine-save performance to beat Turkey 4-1 on Friday, came up with three saves against Portugal. Lopes had four saves for Portugal.
Match: U.S. U-17 Men’s National Team vs. Portugal
Date: Dec. 2, 2012
Competition: 2012 Nike International Friendlies
Venue: Premier Sports Campus; Lakewood Ranch, Fla.
Kickoff: 5 p.m. ET
Weather: 66 degrees, partly sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 1 2 3
POR 3 1 4
POR – José Postiga (Sergio Ribeiro) 12th minute
USA – Ahinga Selemani (John Requejo Jr.) 20
POR – José Postiga (Sergio Ribeiro) 40
POR – José Postiga 45+1
USA – Peter Schropp (Christopher Lema) 49
USA – Alan Winn (Junior Flores) 62
POR – João Lima (Ricardo Carvalho) 84
USA: 12-Evan Louro; 2-Elijah Martin, 3-John Requejo Jr., 4-Shaquell Moore (capt.), 5-Conor Donovan (13-Peter Schropp, 46), 8-Christopher Lema (6-Cameron Lindley, 61), 9-Ahinga Selemani (7-Junior Flores, 61), 10-Corey Baird, 11-Rubio Rubin, 16-Ben Swanson (20-Emerson Hyndman, 70); 17-Alan Winn (19-Mukwelle Akale, 71)
Subs not used: 1-Paul Christensen, 14-Sebastian Elney, 15-Jordan Cano, 18-Rolando Muñoz
Head Coach: Richie Williams
POR: 12-Rafael Lopes; 2-Bernardo Carlos, , 4-João Lima, 5-Mota (14-Serrano, 70), 6-Ruben Neves, 7-Sergio Ribeiro (capt.), 8-Clever (18-Costa, 77), 9-José Postiga (11-Macedo, 46), 10-Rui Moreira (15-Rafa, 81), 13-Ricardo Carvalho, 16-Gonçalo Guedes
Subs not used: 1-João Costa, 3-Diogo Verdasca, 17-Guga
Head Coach: Filipe Ramos
Stats Summary: USA / POR
Shots: 10 / 14
Shots on Goal: 7 / 7
Saves: 3 / 4
Corner Kicks: 7 / 4
Fouls: 10 / 16
Offside: 1 / 2
USA – Shaquell Moore (caution) 34
POR – Rui Moreira (caution) 55
POR – Gonçalo Guedes (caution) 88
USA – Corey Baird (caution) 90+1
Referee: Katja Koroleva (USA)
Assistant Referee 1: Eduardo Mariscal (USA)
Assistant Referee 2: Jason White (USA)
Fourth Official: Christina Ibañez (USA)
ussoccer.com Man of the Match: Shaquell Moore